World powers have agreed on a ceasefire in Syria in one week’s time, giving Russia a chance to help the Assad regime press an offensive that has expanded the Kremlin’s clout in the region.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said agreement was also reached to accelerate and expand the delivery of humanitarian aid in Syria immediately.
He spoke at a news conference after more than five hours of talks with Russia, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other countries, a meeting that aimed to halt a recent onslaught that has created tens of thousands of new refugees.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said a working group chaired by the US and Russia would work out the details of the ceasefire within one week.
The diplomatic push has been complicated by the successes of the pro-regimen offensive, backed by Russian air power, which Arab, Israeli and US officials say has vital US allies taking sharply different positions at a crucial moment.
A US official said earlier that Russia had offered to stop some of its bombing in support of President Bashar al-Assad’s forces by March 1. In response, the US called for an immediate ceasefire, arguing that Russia would use the extra time to extend territorial gains for the regimen and decimate US-backed opposition forces.
The US official said the Americans also told the Russians a ceasefire must be accompanied by full and sustained humanitarian access to besieged areas, where hundreds of thousands of people are caught in the fighting.
A deal on aid, such as airdrops, could be tied to a broader agreement to restart U.N.-mediated peace talks in Geneva that collapsed last week, some diplomats said.
Russia had said it was ready to negotiate a ceasefire. But some countries backing the opposition to Mr. Assad are loath to accept Mr. Assad’s recent resurgence after nearly five years and more than 250,000 people dead.
Those most invested in the rebellion, particularly Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, have been pressuring Syrian rebel fighters not to give ground at the negotiating table and to continue their fight, according to diplomats.
Obama administration officials in recent days have publicly accused Moscow of sabotaging the diplomatic process. The Russian onslaught, they said, has left Islamic State largely untouched, while devastating areas near Aleppo held by more moderate rebels.
“What Russia is doing is directly enabling” Islamic State, Brett McGurk, a senior State Department official and presidential envoy, told a congressional hearing.
Conversely, other countries such as Egypt, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates have been voicing a willingness to accept the Kremlin’s role in Syria and work more closely with it. Israeli officials have said they hoped Russia could help constrain Iranian operations against Israel from Syria.
“Our understanding from our discussions with the Russians is that their primary focus and intervention is targeting the terrorist organisations,” Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said in an interview Monday. “We are supportive of any international effort to eradicate terrorism from Syria.”
this is the claytons ceasefire..the one you call when you are defeated and you just know the enemy you pissed off can go on for as long as it takes..
“The Russian onslaught, they said, has left Islamic State largely untouched, while devastating areas near Aleppo held by more moderate rebels.”
they learned something from the coalition..
“the US called for an immediate ceasefire, arguing that Russia would use the extra time to extend territorial gains for the regimen and decimate US-backed opposition forces.”
the black flag wavers?? :)